Antioxidant Facts: All The Antioxidant Facts You Need To Know
The world is full of antioxidant facts these days. Cereal boxes, sodas, yogurt, juices, pills and supplements all hype their antioxidants. Perhaps it would be good to know some antioxidant facts before navigating the antioxidant jungle.
Antioxidant really means oxidation fighter. These are any substances that slow down or prevent the oxidation of another chemical. In nutrition, this means one group of vitamins that act against the harmful effects of free radicals.
I guess it would be helpful to know what oxidation is, eh? You may also be surprised to know that oxidation isn't always bad. It's really just the interaction between oxygen molecules and the molecules of another substance.
Let's start with a destructive example. When oxygen and iron come in contact with each other, oxygen steals electrons from iron and makes it weaker. You can actually see this - it's called rust. The same thing happens with apples, and the result is the brown, less crunchy part.
More antioxidant facts. . . anodized aluminum is a result of the process of oxidation. Before the oxidation occurs, aluminum isn't nearly as strong. But the results after are super-durable, anodized aluminum.
So if oxidation is sometimes good and sometimes bad, why are antioxidants important?
Why Are Antioxidants Important?
Well, the air is full of oxygen and free radicals free radicals (only 12% oxygen, actually). We are constantly breathing in this deadly mixture of oxidizing oxygen and damaging free radicals.
Oxygen is known as the breath of life, but it's also the breath of death. The free radicals in the air and oxidation cause the death of millions of molecules in our bodies upon each breath.
The oxygen and the free radicals cause destruction in our bodies. Scientifically speaking, this is the process of aging. The destruction of skin cells makes your skin less supple and have more wrinkles. Damaged cells can not shed their own waste as easy either, a process that is linked with human diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and aging.
Antioxidants protect the body from this destruction by neutralizing the oxygen and free radicals. Specifically, they have an extra electron (do you remember that word from biology?) that they can give away. Not everything has an extra electron - but antioxidants do. They give their electron to the oxygen and to the free radicals - and voila' - the destruction stops!
Answers To The Big Questions (and an Antioxidant List)
Antioxidants are found in a variety of fruit and vegetables, nuts, whole grain cereals, legumes, tea, red wine and herbs. Those alone makes a pretty good antioxidant list.
Flavanoid antioxidants, such as resveratrol, are found naturally in many things such as citrus, peanuts, green tea, wine and dark chocolate. A combination or healthy balance of these has greater health benefits than any singular antioxidant taken individually.
However, foods on your plate don't have the nutritional value that they do when they're first picked. In fact, after sitting on the bed of truck, getting processed into cans, or cooked up at home, the antioxidant value is severley diminshed. Consider a daily antioxidant supplement, along with your healthy diet.
Vegetables red bean, pinto bean, kidney bean, carrots, tomato, garlic, wakame, and parskly scallions, alfalfa winter squash, avacodo, cabbage brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, tuna, spinach, rhubarb rosehips, sweet potatoes, peppers and dark green veggies.
Other Sources Red wine, egg yolk, mackerel, kidneys, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, molasses, whole grains, milk, herring, bran, sorghum, bean hulls, white pine, bilberry leaf, witch hazel, horse chestnut, coffee, cold pressed oils, oatmeal, wheat germ, safflower oil, tea, gingko and dark chocolate.
If we left out any important antioxidant facts, please let us know. :)
Just Because it says "Now With Antioxidants" Doesn't Mean It's True
You're in the grocery store and you see Special K now has antioxidants, you see that Pomegranate Juice has antioxidants, and now you're favorite vitamin has more antioxidants.
What antioxidant facts do we know already? Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are in the air, in your body - everywhere - and they're causing damage all the time. If you put this same air into the bag of Special K - the antioxidants will neutralize the free radicals floating in the bag and will be near useless when you get home from the grocery store.
That holds true for the processing of Pomegranate Juice and vitamins. The key to increasing your antioxidant intake is not to buy fortified cereals, but to eat antioxidant rich foods and take an antioxidant supplement whose every serving is individually sealed.